I live in a quiet subdivision in a sleepy little town. Taking a walk around our neighborhood or letting the children play in the yard is a low risk activity, or so I thought. While working in my flower beds I began to notice traffic patterns on our street. People were often speeding, sometimes squealing their tires as they sped down the road. Other drivers looked at their phones, not at the road. I thought I was alone in my concerns until I began to talk to my neighbors. We all noticed the same traffic patterns and unsafe drivers…and a lot of these drivers were teens. Unfortunately, situations like this are becoming more common across the country.
According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving causes 1,600,000 accidents per year. But distracted driving comes in other forms too: applying makeup while driving; driving under the influence; using apps like Snapchat; talking to friends and more. Teens are especially susceptible to distracted driving behavior and Mercury Insurance wants to change that with their Drive Safe Challenge. Here are some of their top tips to keep teens safe.
Tips to Keep Teens Safe While Driving
1. Practice, Practice, Practice. Remember learning to drive? The excitement of being in the car was exhilarating. I wanted to hit the open road. Unfortunately for me, the open road was the empty school parking lot where I spent hours with one of my parents practicing. I knew how to drive around a parking lot, but the problem was I didn’t know much about driving on the road. The solution? Take your child with you on short errands and let them get behind the wheel. Whether it’s going to the store or to the park, let your teen do the driving.
2. Talk. When you get into the car, turn off other distractions. Don’t look at the phone and turn off the radio. The plan is to talk to your child about road hazards, road signs and any other driving related item they make need to know while they drive. You’ll probably receive eye rolls, but they’ll remember your advice in the future.
3. Choose their car carefully. Speeding is the leading cause of car crashes in teenagers. Selecting a less sporty vehicle with a four-cylinder engine and average horsepower could help save a life. Let’s face it – how many of us sped when we were learning to drive? If I could do it in the pokey little car my parents chose for me, imagine what I could have done in the sports car of my dreams.
4. Explain distractions. The average time it takes to read a text message is 4.6 seconds. That’s almost five seconds your eyes are off the road! Digging through a hamburger bag to find the food, searching for a favorite song, or surfing the web, even for a few seconds, is enough time to cause an accident. We’ve all been distracted while driving, but are a few seconds for any of these things worth a life?
5. Contract it out. Go over safe driving rules with your teen carefully. Explain to them what you expect when they drive and the consequences if they break the rules. Mercury Insurance provides one you can use here.
Want to know more about how to keep your teen safe while driving? Check out the Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge. They cover everything from driving tips to car-buying tips to resources for parents and teens.
What is your best safety tip for new drivers?